Magnesium really is incredible stuff. It’s multitalented, essential for healthy hormones, and arguably one of our favorite minerals. But as much as we love this magnificent nutrient, it isn’t necessarily always quite as simple as throwing magnesium at every ailment. What do we mean? Welcome to the world of medication and Magnesium…
Believe it or not, Magnesium can actually interfere with the absorption of some medications and nutrients. Some forms of the mineral are less favorable than others, depending on your body, and in some cases, Magnesium can make your symptoms worse.
More often than not, Magnesium is a safe and effective mineral to include in your diet. But there are times when giving Magnesium a second thought might be worthwhile.
Magnesium and Thyroid Hormone
While not quite the norm, Thyroid dysfunction is relatively common these days. Magnesium is necessary for a healthy Thyroid gland, as it helps to convert T4, a Thyroid hormone, into T3, the active version of your Thyroid hormone. In many cases, though, this process can be slightly slow. It’s this lack of speed that can cause Thyroid-related symptoms, even if your levels are within normal ranges.
What’s more, low Magnesium levels are linked to Thyroid function issues. Which, for us, proves that getting those levels right is essential if you’re living with Graves, Hashimoto’s, or any other Thyroid-related condition.
Thyroid medication and Magnesium
Here’s the thing. While you need Magnesium for good health, taking it at the same time as your Thyroid medication can be an issue. And that’s because Magnesium can interfere with how well your body absorbs Levothyroxine or Synthroid pills. You may have the best intentions of balancing your body by taking Thyroid-loving supplements alongside your medication. But, in actual fact, you may be doing the opposite. The same goes for Iron and Calcium.
Of course, as with all things hormones, it’s entirely person dependant, so speak with your health care professional to help to decide whether you’ll benefit from Magnesium supplements. If you are taking it, leave at least four hours between the supplement and your Thyroid medication to make sure it absorbs properly.
Magnesium and Other Medications
It’s not just Thyroid hormones that Magnesium can impact, however. In fact, there are a few other medications to approach with caution if you’re considering taking a supplement. The first is a potassium-sparing diuretic, and includes Spironolactone, an off-label medication used to manage PCOS symptoms.
Those medications can have Magnesium-sparing properties, which means they reduce the loss of the mineral through natural processes in your body. But if they’re taken alongside high doses of Magnesium, that combination can lead to excessively high Magnesium levels.
So, if you’re taking Spironolactone, it may be best to avoid Magnesium supplements. As always, talk to your healthcare team to discuss your options.
Certain antibiotics, such as quinolone and tetracycline, may also be impacted by higher doses of Magnesium. In a similar fashion to Thyroid hormones, Magnesium can reduce how much of the medication your body absorbs. So leaving time after magnesium supplementation is key when taking antibiotics. That said, if the course is short-term, avoid magnesium altogether while you’re taking the antibiotics.
Lastly, those taking anti-hypertensive medications or even those with very low blood pressure may also want to avoid high-dose Magnesium. Long-term supplementation at significant doses may lower blood pressure, which is an issue if your blood pressure is already low.
Magnesium and Other Minerals
Many of our minerals have antagonistic relationships with one another. And that basically means, as one increases, others may decrease. In some cases, the opposite is true, requiring a particular nutrient to stabilize or for the body to effectively utilize a mineral.
In Magnesium’s case, sodium is the mineral that antagonizes it. So, if someone has low sodium and potassium, Magnesium supplements may increase symptoms related to low levels of those minerals.
And, as sodium is involved in adrenal health, symptoms caused by low levels are similar to those caused by stress or high adrenal output. That means fatigue, issues with sleep, and hair loss among others. But as Magnesium will only make those symptoms worse, it’s worth balancing your sodium and potassium levels before considering adding Magnesium to your regimen.
What’s more, calcium can also inhibit Magnesium absorption as the two compete for absorption and transport in your body. So if you take a calcium supplement, or your diet has high levels of calcium, make sure your Magnesium dose takes that into account.
Magnesium and Bowel Movements
There are a huge number of different types of Magnesium supplements available. From oxide to glycinate, threonate to citrate, all support different mechanisms in the body. So it isn’t uncommon to try a type of Magnesium and write it off for having no effect, leaving you feeling that using it was a waste of time.
But, choosing the right Magnesium type is essential in getting the best outcome and helping reduce your hormonal symptoms. In some cases, taking the wrong type of Magnesium could make your symptoms worse.
For example, Magnesium citrate is arguably one of the easiest supplements to find. While those experiencing constipation or slow, solid bowel movements may find it’s great for relieving that, others may find the complete opposite. If you’re prone to loose stools or have a particularly sensitive gut, Magnesium citrate could make that worse, or even interfere with the excretion of some medications or supplements.
When to Use Magnesium
If you’re thinking about adding any new supplements to your diet, one thing is crucial. And that’s working with a healthcare professional who can best understand your symptoms and personal health history. They can help you find and correct any deficiencies while taking into account your individual physical needs.
If you aren’t taking any medication that’s affected by it, and have symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps, period pain, or PMS, Magnesium supplementation might be for you.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are a great place to start if you’re new to Magnesium supplementation. They provide a low, but still effective, dose of the mineral, which is great if you want to ease into it. Lounging in a bath for 20 minutes or more, with around 3 cups of Epsom salts, yes, you have to aim for quite a high amount, will help you reap the benefits of Magnesium.
If baths aren’t your thing, don’t stress. Try Magnesium sprays or oils as a great alternative to a soak.
Other types of Magnesium
Now, if the usual forms of Magnesium just aren’t doing it for you, a more targeted form might be the next step.
- Magnesium bisglycinate is the form used for regulating the nervous system and providing stress support. It’s also one of the best in terms of absorption.
- Magnesium citrate is beneficial if you have sluggish bowels or constipation. However, this can go the other way if you are prone to looser stools or have a sensitive gut. In terms of absorption, citrate is second to bisglycinate.
- Magnesium malate is a type of magnesium bound to malic acid. As malic acid is required for cellular energy, it may be beneficial if you experience fatigue.
- Magnesium Threonate is the form that may be supportive if you experience hormonal migraines. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and directly impact brain function, which is amazing.
All that said, there are some conditions in which Magnesium supplements are actually recommended. For example, PCOS is defined by metabolic abnormalities and increased androgens. Spironolactone, used to block androgen activity, is generally the medication of choice. But it’s not right for everyone, in which case, taking Magnesium can help.
It supports better quality sleep, which can help increase insulin sensitivity. And that, in turn, can reduce androgen levels, which is why sleep is a crucial pillar of PCOS management.
As Magnesium aids muscle function, supplements can be a useful tool if you experience painful periods. The mineral is also intimately involved in the excretion of used Estrogen, making it an essential nutrient if you experience PMS or mood changes.
For those with an underactive Thyroid, Magnesium supplements can be worthwhile as one of the many nutrients required for Thyroid hormone conversion. However, this must be explored with your doctor and a significant gap should be left between supplements and medication.
Lastly, there is some evidence to suggest that the Hormonal Contraceptive Pill lowers Magnesium levels. If you’re considering or have recently transitioned off the Pill, adding some extra Magnesium to your diet may be worth your while.
Medication, Magnesium, and you
Magnesium is a popular mineral supplement, and for good reason. It’s effective and used in hundreds of processes throughout the body, both in and outside of the Endocrine system. As with all supplementation, however, there are lots of things to consider first, including medication, other mineral levels, stress, and bowel movements.
Always talk to a healthcare type before starting a supplement regime, particularly if you take any of the medications mentioned. And as always, if you recognize anything we’ve talked about, don’t sit in silence. Talk to someone and make your health a priority.